I’ve just registered for Denial101x, an online course aimed at giving me more effective tools to fight deniers wherever they are. I’m a Climate Activist whose knowledge of climate science is sound and unequivocal. It’s clear to me that humanity is facing its largest crisis, an existential one at that. Yet, millions of skeptics continue to deny climate change as a threat to future generations. This course will provide me with the resources to become a debunker of deniers. There’s always more to learn. I need to make sense of climate science denial. That’s why I’ve enrolled in climate denial school. The following is cross-posted from DesmogBlog. (Rolly Montpellier ~ Editor, BoomerWarrior).  

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(Image Credit: Screenshot, Youtube)

Climate Denial School

More than 10,000 people from 150 countries have signed up for a free online university course that aims to explain the science of climate science denial and give the public the best tools to fight misinformation.

The course, from the University of Queensland in Australia, has recruited some of the world’s leading climate scientists, along with psychologists, science historians and even world famous natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough, who all gave interviews for Denial101x.  Course instructors include scientists and contributors to the Skeptical Science website.

John Cook, course developer, instructor and Climate Communication Fellow at the university’s Global Change Institute, told DeSmogBlog the seven-week course would explain everything from the fundamentals of climate change science, to the techniques used by climate science deniers and the psychologies of denial.

He hopes the course will help to “close the consensus gap” – the chasm between the 97 per cent of expert scientists who accept that humans are causing climate change and members of the public, politicians and media commentators who still reject the science.

Cook, the founder of the Skeptical Science climate myth debunking site, told DeSmogBlog:

Our course isn’t about specific individuals because climate misinformation is like a renewable resource, recycled repeatedly by many individuals – it’s a pity we can’t harness energy from climate science denial.

We’re countering any misinformation that distorts the science of climate change. We debunk a number of myths that downplay the existence of global warming, that deny humans are causing climate change and that seek to downplay the severity of climate impacts.

So our approach is to look at the empirical scientific research into the psychology of denial, and address general myths and misconceptions.

The course is recommended for anyone with a high school science qualification or higher and should take between one and two hours per week to complete. The Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) looks at what drives the rejection of climate science (spoiler alert, says Cook, “it’s political ideology”), then debunks some of the most common climate science myths, before looking at the psychology of denial and, finally, how to most effectively counter misinformation.

One section of the course contains first hand accounts of personal attacks faced by climate scientists, with contributions from Professor Michael Mann, of Penn State University, Harvard’s Professor Naomi Oreskes and Texas Tech University’s Professor Katherine Hayhoe.

Summarizing these tactics of climate science deniers who go on the attack, Dr Ben Santer, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says: “Go after the scientist. Go after their integrity. Go after their funding… make life miserable for them.”

Cook says the course’s approach is based on research in a field of psychology known as “inoculation theory”.  He says:

This research finds that to stop misinformation from spreading, we need to expose people to a weak form of the misinformation – in the same way that we stop viruses from spreading by giving people flu shots: a weak form of the virus. This process of inoculation has been adopted in some university classes by professors in the US  – three of those professors are part of our course team. But a Massive Online Open Course with the ability to reach thousands of students all over the world offers a powerful opportunity to scale up inoculation against science denial to a much wider scale.

So why a course on climate denial? Cook says it comes down to the right of the public to be well informed, but too many are currently confused by misinformation.

This confusion has significant societal consequences. For example, much of the public think there’s an ongoing scientific debate about the basic fact that humans are causing global warming – despite the fact that there’s 97% agreement among climate scientists. But when people aren’t aware of the scientific consensus, they’re less likely to support action to mitigate climate change. This is a key example of the damaging impact of misinformation, and why we need a course that counters misinformation and reduces the influence of climate science denial. Climate change affects everyone, and everyone can have a voice on what we can do to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

 Enrollments for Denial101x are still open.

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Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a blogger and a Climate Activist. Rolly has been published widely – Toronto Star, The Hill Times, Kingston Whig, the PEN, UnpublishedOttawa, Climate Change Guide, World Daily, Examiner, The Canadian, 350Ottawa, ClimateMama, MyEarth360, GreenDivas, The Elephant, Countercurrents, County Weekly News.

He’s a member of Climate Reality Canada, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa) and 350.Org (Ottawa). You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and Linkedin.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Good move, to fight your enemies, you have to understand them.
    Have you dealt with Tom Harris? He often writes to the local papers. I have communicated with him on occasion and usually finish off with “By the way, the world is not flat.”

    Have you tried to fight global warming with potatoes? It works well, shove a large potato up the exhaust pipe of cars. They are more accessible than the large industrial smoke stacks, and there are many more of them. In reality, drive less, plan trips more efficiently to require fewer trips. Live closer to work. Work closer to where you live. Anyone of us can easily drive less, that is the answer.

    • Thanks for your comment Steven – I’ll keep the potato strategy in mind. And yes, driving less is one of the answers to carbon emissions. Or driving with electric vehicles works too. But transportation only accounts for around 30% of carbon pollution. Electricity generation produces more than transportation.

  2. I like the potato in the tailpipe idea. An auto or truck will operate without air and fuel about as well as a human will operate without air and food.

    Governor Sam Brownback
    Kansas Capitol Building
    300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 241S
    Topeka, KS 66612-1590

    Re: State Level Collaboration Proposal by Advanced Alternative Energy Corp.

    Dear Governor Brownback:

    Our firm represents Advanced Alternative Energy Corporation (“AAEC”) and its owner, Les Blevins.

    Mr. Blevins has noted that you have “vowed to balance the state budget without a tax increase and improve the economy” and he believes his new energy technology can be a useful empowerment tool in helping universities and various agencies in the State of Kansas work together and achieve this important task.

    Mr. Blevins has developed and patented a unique bioenergy technology and also has a vision of how it can be used to move the state forward on several fronts. As you commented at a recent meeting of the Lawrence Technology Association, “We need that person who has that entrepreneurial spirit who says, ‘I’ve got a dream, and I know how to get things done.’”
    Mr. Blevins believes that the manufacturing and installation of city and county scale energy efficiency products based on this new concept technology could create hundreds if not thousands of jobs in Kansas and around the nation.

    Mr. Blevins also believes that products could be manufactured in Kansas for residential, business, utility, governmental, institutional and military applications. Excess manufacturing capacity in the state could be readily adapted for the production of small, medium and large scale energy efficiency and alternative energy production units to repower America and to address global warming – without harming the coal industry – by using the AAEC technology as a clean coal repowering technology. (See enclosures for additional information on the AAEC technology and how others are suggesting the need for innovation.)

    Mr. Blevins would like to point out that most feedstock conversion systems focus on one or two feedstocks while the Advanced Alternative Energy conversion technology is designed to operate on a wide variety of feedstocks including;

    • Crop Residues
    • Livestock and Poultry Wastes
    • Dedicated Energy Crops of Many Types
    • MSW, Urban Wastes and Special Wastes
    • Forest and Lumber Industry Residues
    • Food Processing Residues
    • Wood Products Manufacturing Wastes
    • Algae and Seaweed
    • Natural Gas and Landfill Gas
    • Low Rank Coal

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=27&v=4Ew05sRDAcU

    President Obama was so distraught that he flew 2,000 miles round-trip in a 747, burning nearly 10,000 gallons of jet fuel, to declare: “[C]limate change can no longer be denied. … And action can no longer be delayed.”

    Because “climate change” replaces science with politics, it also replaces scientists with politicians. And politicians replace the pursuit of knowledge with the pursuit of power.

    Among the throngs who have turned “Earth” Day into “Global Warming Is Real Because We Say It Is” Day are more than a few activists who believe laws should be made to not only ensure that Global Warming Is Real Because They Say It Is, but punish people who don’t believe in it

    That the climate is changing is a matter of scientific fact. However, the cause thereof is anything but. The big secret of the global warming industry is that it literally cannot prove anything more than an anecdotal relationship between human activity and weather patterns.

    Lust for power plus dishonesty plus willful ignorance almost always means trouble for the rest of us.

    Say what you want about the American left, they are nearly as hysterical about “climate change” as they are about making sure no one derails the “climate change” express. What these guys lack in conclusive evidence, they more than make up for in sheer volume.

    Be a Proud and Scientific Denier

    Obama’s Global Warming Crisis it a complete fabrication to diminish the use of Fossil Fuels and the USA Economy plus get control of Energy and redistribute our wealth to the UN & rest of the world with ridiculous Carbon Credits — And fortunately most of America knows it!

    I’m ticked off that our immense Sun and its billions of years of Solar Warming and Solar Cooling Cycles driving our Earth’s climate and climate changes are now being ignored by this administration to blame Man, Fossil Fuels and Trace Amounts of Greenhouse Gases which are 95% Water Vapor and only a Trace 0.04% CO2 in the atmosphere; Only 0.002% CO2 – Two-Thousandth’s of a percent is caused by Man’s industrial & fossil fuel emissions!

    They are wasting $22B/year on grants and subsidies to scientists with a sworn allegiance to the failed Global Warming Hypothesis and $39B/year on “Green Subsidies” all for the wrong reasons.

    The overdue Modern Maximum solar cycle appears to have ended in 1998 with no further peak warming (a small uptick in 2014) for 18-years and we are now entering the downward solar cycle headed quickly to a new dangerously cold Minimum expected to exceed 200 year or even 400 year records (e.g., Dalton or Maunder level cold Minimums) for the next 20-30 years.

    Just look at the last few winters in the Northern Hemisphere, watch out Obama, Kerry and Gore will be preaching that man-made CO2 (0.002%) is causing the Global Warming to be Global Cooling.

    Don’t believe it! The Sun has a weak magnetic field now (indicated by low sunspot counts) at the same time our Earth also has a weak magnetic field just like before the many solar Maximum-Minimum temperature transitions, especially the Dalton Minimum (1790-1820) and the very cold Maunder Minimum ( 1645-1715).

    Finally, in the 4.8 Billion years of many millions solar cycles none have ever been run-away warming and many had much higher & lower levels of CO2 concentrations. CO2 is essential to all life on earth — All Plants require & absorb it and produce Oxygen (O2) that all humans and animals breath and every breath you exhale is about 4% CO2.

    Don’t let these Progressive Liars intimidate you — Be a Proud and Scientific “Denier”. Valid science is never “Settled” and some much more is being learned about our highly variable and dynamic Star, the Sun, and its many-faceted Energy Transfer System that permits and sustains all life, climate, orbit, atmosphere, etc. Trace Greenhouse Gases have only a local regional influence on climate with Our Sun as still the Primary Driver, not Man, Fossil Fuels, and Trace CO2. Man cannot control the climate, so don’t waste our money on it, just prepare and adapt to the climate as always done before.

    • Thank you for your comment. I must say that your expose has raised the bar for deniers. You actually try to use science to back up your denial. You’ve used the term “scientific denier” which I do like. But it’s still denial.

      So your solution then is to “just prepare and adapt to the climate”. Wow! Why didn’t I think of that. Let’s not do anything about the close to 10 billion metric tonnes of carbon we’re emitting into the atmosphere annually. Surely that can’t be one of the causes of global warming.

      I suggest you enroll in the course.

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iYUH-WQU78

    Q: Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor…

    A: And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide? Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide.

    http://global-warming.accuweather.com/2007/05/reid_bryson_speaks_out.html

    This quote comes from the link above:
    I talked personally to Reid Bryson a few weeks ago and we both agree about CO2 not being a global warming factor. All should know that it is a fact that the greenhouse gas “water vapor” is 100 times greater than CO2 in the atmosphere. And it is also a fact that about 30 other global warming episodes have occured during the past 5,000 years without the influence of CO2 emissions from factories and automobiles. And it is a fact that as temperatures rise during all global warming episodes, so does the water vapor and CO2 “naturally”. Please refer to the website globalweatheroscillations.com/ (google it) to find out about the other 30 global warmings.

    • Richard – Reid Bryson is a skeptic. Almost 99 percent of scientists and climatologists believe that global warming is caused by carbon emissions. Reid is part of the 1 percent. I suggest that you broaden your scope by registering for the free online course. What have you got to lose?

  5. What all the liberal idiots keep forgetting it that the Sun is a variable star. It’s output changes by up to 4% around it’s average. That’s enough to completely obviate any changes that might be caused by the actions of mankind. 40 years ago the same sort of people were warning us about the coming Ice Age. Fact is, it has cooled off about 1/2 a degree in the last 20 years averaged out over the entire Earth’s surface. And actually the polar ice caps are thicker this year than they have been in decades. There may be some global warming or some global cooling going on but we aren’t the cause of either one.

    This has to be discussed on a back and forth manner, this BS of settled science is the most stupid thing that any supposed scientist ever said nothing is settled just like Newtonian Physics was settled physics until Einstein came along and blew that all to heck.

    Author and their credentials are listed at the end of this article:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/224538945/NCA-Rebuttal

  6. Ah, Richard K is firmly routed in the climate denier group and arguments against his ‘scientific’ data needs equally scientific data as a rebuttal (the aim of the Climate Denial School, is I believe, to provide us with just that sort of information to provide sound arguments)!

    I am not a scientist, so I tend to believe the charts, the journal papers and so on at face value. I am at a total loss to refute Richard K’s claims, some of which may have merit, but are they placed in the right context? If nothing else, Richard’s claims initiate the need for us all to become more informed.

    I am with Rolly though. The important thing, is that we are all now aware that our overconsumption of oil-based and chemical technologies is strangling the life-support mechanisms on this planet. Our sheer overpopulation in comparison with every other llifeform is bad enough. That we choose to poison the planet is unforgiveable and so we must change to a better system whether it affects global warming or not!

    PS…Richard, I am not a bleeding-heart liberal. In fact I actually abhor politics as divisive and unhelpful in tackling issues beyond whether an airline is paying enough carbon tax or not! The constant wrangling that I see between political parties (regardless of country or border), wastes so much time, energy and money in useless verbal harangues in congresses or parliaments, as to be the equivalent of watching a chimps tea party getting out of control (No disrespect to Jane Goodall). Meanwhile I see species dying all around me and wonder “when will it be my turn?”

    • In an ideal world, one would have the time and resources to counter every denial argument. I rely on the expertise of 97% of the world’s leading scientific minds for my information. I do not have the time to counter denier information. And Colette, as you point out, we can’t wait for politicians to make up their mind and waste valuable time. We have a planet to save. We are way past the stage of debating and arguing over the science.

      Deniers will be dragged screaming and scratching through the next decades as we “believers” go about reforming our society and our world. And ironically, they too will benefit from our courage to effect change.

  7. I have just completed week one of Denial101x – Thanks Rolly for posting this. I have yet to do the assignment (yes, your knowledge of the material is tested), but am not doing this for a certificate. Rather, I have enrolled free to audit all the materials. My interactions with other participants are counted anyway and it is a great learning space.

    Will it make a difference? You bet – how to spot the pseudo science and cherry-picked data is crucial when it comes to making an argument for or against Climate Change reasons. 97%+ Climate Scientists world wide agree that human activity is driving the current warming trends we see in our climate. I cast my vote with them. They know more than me.

    Richard K, I suggest you take the course too…it might just change your mind.

    • Colette – I’m so pleased that you’re following the course. Like you, I’m only auditing the course. I have no need for another certificate. But I do think it’s a fascinating program with many sources of info which I hope to feature in various forms on BoomerWarrior.

      Good luck. Hope you enjoy it.

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